PORT MORESBY – WELGRIS Highlanders FC continued their turn around in form to claim the prized scalp of Inspac Rapatona FC in a weekend of upsets in the Telikom National Soccer
The Highlanders, playing with a lot of confidence and nailed their highly fancied Port Moresby counterparts 2-1 at Telikom ParkPort Moresby on Saturday in a thrilling encounter.
AT Madang’s Laiwaden Oval, Besta Madang Fighters FC turned the screws on main premiership contenders Tuguba Laitepo Morobe Kumuls with a 4-0 thrashing.
In the other clash, reigning champs Hekari United FC were in a class of their own with Hekari striker golden boot contender Kema Jack scoring two goals while wide midfielder Benzamin Mela
scored the other for the easy 3-0 win over Gelle Hills.
However, it was the Highlanders win over the Manus men that stole the limelight.
From the opening whistle it looked like it was going to be one-way traffic when Rapatona veteran Selan Elizah scored the opening goal from a cross from flanker Andrew Marampau.
The Highlanders, however, settled in well to take control of the match with Papua New Guinea Under-23 squad member Samuel Kinii featuring prominently in the midfield.
The Highlanders looking more composed equalised through Lae recruit Jeffrey Normboi after latching onto a loose ball in the Rapatona penalty box.
Normboi again surprised Rapa-tona goalkeeper Tapas Posman with the second goal early in the second half to take the lead for the first time.
Normboi was replaced because of injury after scoring his second.
As the confidence grew the Highlanders took a leaf out of the latters’ handbook to control possession of the ball.
Rapatona never recovered as the second goal by the Highlanders shook them up.
Rapatona’s Russell Inai, Robert Diau, Marampau, Elizah, Robert Sios and Chiquie Posman tried to make an impression to fight back.
However Highlanders defenders Roger Miamba, Becken Yanum, PNG Under-23 squad member Koriak Upaiga and replacement Bonnie Mathew held firm to deny them from equalising.
Highlanders left-flanker Philip Apo also stood out with strikers Ian Yanum and Gari Moka.
Yanum and Moka also missed a number of opportunities to score in what could have been a much bigger scoreline.
Highlanders coaching staff of Pius Letenge and Andrew Bain both acknowledged their players for lifting their game in recent weeks.
UNDERDOGS Besta Madang Fighters thrashed favourites Tuguba Laitepo Morobe Kumuls 4-0 before the home crowd at Laiwaden oval in Madang on Saturday.
Karkar Island import striker Pupulang Boiross and flanker Malwok Robin proved that they are one of a kind in their district displaying exceptional skills to help Fighters restore
some pride in their campaign.
Robin played a stunning role having a hand in three of the four goals scored. Robin was terrific with his ballwork and his acute passes were enough to set strikers Ross and young
Keimilo Joel to see Fighters record their second win of the season.
Boiross and Joel scored two goals each, one each in both halves.
The match didn’t reach any height for the fancy Morobe boys with the home team dominating the entire 90 minutes.
It was an ordinary match for the visitors who lacked cohesion and co-ordination as a result their tactical play was in chaos with poor scoring opportunities.
Fighters coached by John Gringo looked confident and were prepared for the match when Joel found the back of the net 15 minutes into the first half.
The goal came from an excellent midfield combination built up by young Buran Mul and Hansen Sali to put Fighters in front 1-0.
The goal ignited the home team as they continued to apply pressure against Kumuls.
Fighters efforts were again rewarded with their second goal to lead 2-0.
Up and coming striker Karkar’s Boiross belted their second after an overlap against the Kumuls defence to take the two-goal lead into break.
Kumuls regrouped after tounge-lashing from coach Max Foster but nothing occurred at the final half.
The home team were in control and forced the visitors to play like beginners. Kumuls’ Fabian Baki, Clement Peka, Ken Gule and Roniel Igins could not find target as Fighters put
up a strong defence.
Morobe Kumuls coach Foster’s substitution in striker Raymond Gunemba and Richard Daniel in the dying stages of the game also did not work out.
The home team were enjoying themselves putting Foster under extreme pressure.
Defenders Dennis Kitchnoge, Jerry Laulam and goalkeeper Shane Samuga were outstanding at the back.
Kumuls were forced not to take shots at goal when in Fighters’ danger zone as they (defenders) were too quick to repel them.
Fighters had the final laugh to restore some pride in the province when Joel and Boiross scored two goals to seal the win 4-0.
An elated Fighters coach Gringo said the credit goes to the players who really played their hearts out.
“I think I have found my combination, they were just impressive in all departments following our game plans,” said Gringo.
He said the victory was the biggest achivement for the club, sponsor International Food Corporation (Besta) and the people of Madang.
“We still can play soccer, and we have proved it today despite poor performances earlier in the competition,” he said.
Morobe Kumuls coach Foster admitted that the boys didn’t perform well but credited the Fighters for a good game.
“I think we gave the game away, we were not performing at all in all departments,” he said.